How to Prevent and Fix the Most Common ServiceNow Data Integration Issues

ServiceNow data integration issues can be a huge burden on data-driven enterprises. Organizations facing such issues have to extend considerable resources to implement/fix, and then maintain their integrations.

This often leads to a dynamic where data availability is impacted, and  manual processes – risking data errors and security – are required to facilitate the integration.

But what causes the issues?

Implementing and maintaining custom ServiceNow data integrations is hard

Creating and managing your organization’s integrations internally, is a costly and on-going effort. As they often enable critical enterprise functions, it’s important to preserve the value of the integration over time.

Therefore, proper planning when implementing a new integration should consider why integrations fail, and the common issues behind such failures. 

The complexity of modern technology and enterprise architectures lead to many organizations facing similar data integration issues. ServiceNow integrations in particular, can be difficult to implement, manage and maintain.

That’s because despite its popularity, ServiceNow is a notoriously difficult tool to integrate. In fact, some of the same factors driving its popularity – such as its highly customizable nature – are what makes it so difficult to integrate.

First of all, the data extraction itself can be tricky, with most solutions (not this one) leveraging web tools and API calls to facilitate the extraction. These web tools share your ServiceNow bandwidth, and so impact the performance of your ServiceNow instance.

Then, when you’ve extracted the data from the source (ServiceNow), it must be transformed in order to be recognized and processed by the target.

Typically, data fields in the source will not line up with the target, and so API-based integrations must be carefully configured to ensure the target and source systems are aligned, and data is routed as intended.

But ServiceNow data integrations are necessary …

Due to the importance of technology and data to modern business, IT Service Management tools like ServiceNow are arguably the “heart” of many organizations. And so it’s vitally important that ITSM is connected to the wider enterprise.

In order to operate at maximum efficiency, the organization’s “heart” needs to circulate data to where it is required within the enterprise, when it is required.

From analytics, reporting and business intelligence, to facilitating mergers & acquisitions and AI initiatives, the data within ServiceNow is of great value to the enterprise at large.

So now that we have established the importance of connecting ServiceNow to the wider enterprise, let’s look at what is often so difficult about it, and why.

The 4 most common ServiceNow Data integration issues

When organizations – particularly large enterprises – implement custom ServiceNow integration, they often run into the following data integration problems:

1. Lack of real-time data affecting data availability, reporting and analytics

While ServiceNow has its own analytics and reporting features, it is often integrated with third-party tools to extend these capabilities. By integrating with third-party analytics, reporting and business intelligence tools, organizations free the data from its silo within ServiceNow. 

However, for the data to be insightful, it must be accurate, and up to date. The limitations of custom, API-based integrations mean that exporting data in bulk is time-consuming. By the time the data is exported for analysis, it no longer reflects an up to date view of the enterprise.

2. Performance impacts increasing risk of downtime, data loss, failure and limiting data availability

Custom ServiceNow integrations leverage API calls to extract data. So ServiceNow instances with large data volumes suffer performance degradation, as the API calls compete for ServiceNow bandwidth to operate.

Organization’s with large data volumes and custom ServiceNow integrations have to use workarounds such as running bulk exports outside of working hours. As mentioned above, this inherently leads to out of date data. But the issues don’t stop there.

Bulk exports can take so long to process that they are incomplete by the time the organization reopens, or even time-out and fail outright, risking data loss.

The threat of performance degradation also affects how the integration is tested. To limit performance degradation, integrations are tested at low data volumes. However, there is no guarantee that the integration will function as expected as volumes scale.

3. Lack of personnel and resources required to effectively implement, maintain and manage the integration

The employees typically assigned to managing integrations often have many other tasks, making it difficult to source enough resources to effectively manage the integration.

This takes employees away from more proactive tasks, but it also makes API errors more likely as there is pressure to rush the integration’s implementation.

API errors lead to broken integrations and/or data in the target system being inconsistent with ServiceNow records.

API errors are also common when the ServiceNow platform undergoes an update. In this case, the custom code facilitating the integration needs to be re-written, consuming further resources.

When an organization is experiencing regular integration failures and inconsistencies in data, further resources are required to actively monitor the integration’s status to limit the risk of data loss.

4. Staff turnover threatening the integration project due to employees exiting the organization who understand the integration

Organizations opting to build custom integrations internally increase the risk of integration failure when the developers behind the project move on. When this happens, the integration is at risk of becoming technical debt.

A recent study showed that 49% of organizations consider developer turnover as a cause of their technical debt. To prevent this, organizations need to capture and document the architecture and processes that facilitate the integration.

However, this approach is not foolproof, as the documentation is unlikely to reflect the nuances of the project in full.

It also limits the organizations capacity to fill the role, as they have to target recruits with a particular skill set to maintain continuity for the integration.

The throughline between the common issues

There’s a reason these four issues commonly plague ServiceNow integrations, and it’s because of the most commonly deployed method of integration – custom, API-based integrations.

Custom integrations require resources to implement, manage and maintain, and the onus of sourcing such resources is on the organization.

Continuity through staff turnover is also difficult. Employees with an intimate understanding of the integration are unlikely to be around forever, and it’s unlikely the organizations will retain enough knowledge that the integration will live on unimpaired.

Allured by the perception that it’s “cheaper”, many organizations fail to consider continuity, and its impact on resources, before beginning the integration project.

But the reality is, while it often is cheaper initially, the on-going cost of maintenance will likely scale as your data volumes grow, as well as the risk of costly integration failures.

Organizations that do consider these limitations ahead of time, may consider working with an integration provider to build and maintain the integration on their behalf. But while this addresses concerns surrounding resources and continuity, it still leaves organizations exposed to risk.

Because custom integrations leverage web tools and API calls to facilitate integrations, the impacts to performance, lack of real-time data and increased risk of integration failure are still present issues.

Ultimately, these issues arise because often, when selecting the custom integration approach, organizations lose sight of the goal of the integration.

Data integrations should be business value-driven

The goal of integration is not just to connect two systems. The integration is built to meet goals such as higher ROI from enterprise solutions, increased productivity and improving the employee and customer experience.

Organization’s often opt for the custom approach when they treat the integration’s implementation as the end goal. For many, it’s only when they have sunk hundreds of hours into maintaining the integration that it becomes clear the custom approach is unsustainable for them.

Such organizations experience poor implementation of their integration, and the integration fails to meet the organization’s demands.

Organizations don’t benefit from an integration that consumes vast amounts of internal resources and manual intervention just to keep it alive.

Think about it, if you want to add value to your workflow automation tool – in this case, ServiceNow – should your integration not also be based around automation?

The solution …

Perspectium is a ServiceNow-native, automated integration solution and managed service for integrating ServiceNow with the wider enterprise.

Perspectium allows organizations to extract and replicate large amounts of ServiceNow data, without performance degrading API calls or additional software. 

The solution connects ServiceNow to common database systems, so the data can feed other enterprise tools such as analytics, reporting and business intelligence solutions. Organizations also use Perspectium to back up data for disaster recovery, preventing data loss. 

The lack of performance impact in ServiceNow means organizations can export data in bulk, when they need it, and in a timely manner. 

Through Perspectium’s Dynamic Share, push technology is used to dynamically synchronize changes to data and new entries at the source (ServiceNow) with the integration’s target system. Target system’s include SQL Database, Oracle Database, AWS and more. 

Perspectium also provide a receipting system to show exactly what was exported. Users can leverage the ServiceNow ‘System Notifications’ to alert users, or execute internal actions (within SNOW) to automatically alert administrators or distribution groups to address issues quickly.

And importantly, all extraction and replication is architected to deliver secure data movement through a message broker architecture that you ultimately control. ​

Perspectium’s pedigree is as such, that ServiceNow themselves use Perspectium for their own integration needs.

In an upcoming webinar, we’ll cover the most common ServiceNow integration issues in depth, with a live demonstration of how Perspectium solves them.

Data Integration

Want to learn more about Perspectium? Talk to us.

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Zak Cole